Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dr Suess Cake

Last month I hosted a baby shower for my amazing friend Erika who I have written about before. Just so you know, it is hard to host a baby shower in Mississippi when you live in Chicago... Just sayin'. I flew into MS on Thursday afternoon and the baby shower was on Saturday afternoon.. Stressful! In the end, it turned out just fine but I am not going to lie and tell you I was super calm in the days leading up to it. I wasn't. It was bad.

My friend Jamie and I finished this cake at 3:30am on Saturday morning. Thing 1 and Thing 2 and The Cat in The Hat are hand drawn onto the fondant and yes, that is a real goldfish. In a real fish bowl. We put the fish bowl on the cake right before the shower and took it off right before we cut the cake.

This is hands down my favorite cake that I have made. I love making cakes, it is definitely my passion but I can't do it without Jamie. She keeps me calm and brings me down to earth when I decide I want to put fireworks on a topsy-turvy cake or something else that is WAY past my experience level.

One day I am going to talk her into opening a bakery with me :)

I have more pictures of the shower itself that I will upload as soon as I can convince my Mom to send them to me since she took them on her camera.

Also, Happy Birthday to Erika's twins, Jaxon and James. They will make their grand entrance into the world in just a few hours!! I can't wait to meet them!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Product Review, Acne, A Trip To Target, and Dry Hair.

Hello, Hello,

You can probably tell by the title of this post that it has nothing to do with baking. I mean, I am just as excited about baking everything pumpkin as the next girl but this girl has been busy. The past two days I have been super super deep cleaning my house. Honestly, I want my house so clean that I could eat off of the floor if I wanted to. Not that I would ever want to.

Colin worked today so of course I took a break from cleaning for my normal walk to Target and let me tell you, the weather could not have been more perfect. It was the kind of weather that makes me think that moving to Chicago was completely worth it. It as the kind of weather that we would have for 3 days in Mississippi. Sweater weather = Perfection.

Okay, since I promised a lot of things in the title, let's get started. A product review:
I feel pretty strongly about not buying cheap nail polish. In fact, if you look at my nail polish collection you will only find OPI and Essie... And this bottle. I'm not a snob, I am just willing to spend $8 on a bottle of polish because the quality is so superior. I only bought this brand because OPI and Essie were pretty cleared out at my Target for some reason and I desperately wanted a bright red nail polish. I have been wearing this a lot recently. Of course, you get what you pay for and since I only paid $3 for this polish it only lasts about 3 days before it starts chipping. However, I do like the color and I also like the brush. I didn't take a picture of the brush but the corners/ edges of it are rounded, making application easier.

I also promised that we would talk about acne so I guess we can dive into that now. I have been breaking out for the last few months and it is really getting on my nerves. I thought my face was to get better when I grew out of my teenage years. Instead, it is steadily getting worse. I have tried a few face cleansers but none of them are really delivering like I need them too. I know that I am going to have to break down and buy Purity by Philosophy again but I really want a drug store product to work. It is so much more convenient and inexpensive. I guess I should take my own advice from the paragraph above "you get what you pay for" huh?
This is what I bought tonight at Target. I have had my eye on the blending sponge ever since I saw it in a youtube beauty guru's video. I want to try it out and see if I waste half of my make up in the process. I also got Cover Girl TruBlend make up. I have never tried their foundation before so I hope it is pretty good quality. I am also going to give Neutrogena's Acne Stress Control Cleanser a try. I know several people that use this cleanser and like it so it is definitely my last resort before I go back to Purity or even Proactive. The container all of the way to the left is a Pantene hair treatment. My hair has been really dry lately so I am trying to kick that dryness to the curb!

Speaking of hair, I am going on a trip home next month and get to visit my genius of a hair stylist who I miss so so much.

Okay, I think that about wraps up this already really long post. I promise that I am going to bake soon but I hope you don't mind these types of posts either. I enjoy writing blog posts just to write blog posts and ever since my revelation, I feel like I can do it a lot more. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Adventure: Learning to Cut/Use Coupons

I have been interested in couponing for awhile now but it always felt so overwhelming. Like, what stores accept what coupons and which coupons can be used together? The list of questions went on and on. Last Tuesday my boss and I somehow got on the subject of budgets. Now, my boss is a whiz when it comes to saving money and his wife cuts coupons every week- something I have always been jealous of. I was telling him how much money Colin and I have saved since we limited the amount of times that we eat out every week.

I am going to be very honest with you guys here... Thanks to (if you don't have that app on your phone, GET IT, seriously) we realized that in 30 days we had spent just under a thousand dollars on fast food and eating out. I know, I know, that is ridiculous, I could feed a third world country for that amount, I have heard it all.

When I told my boss that, his mouth dropped and he called me names that aren't appropriate for my mother to read :) Just kidding, but he did say that was ridiculous and dumb. Agreed boss man, agreed.

When he told me that he feeds his family of four (Wife, Daughter (3) and Son (12 weeks) for about $50 every two weeks, I thought I had misheard him. That is impossible... right? I couldn't fathom how they could get diapers and formula for their son, pull ups for their daughter, and enough food to feed two adults and a toddler for two weeks for only $50.

His answer was simple: Coupons.

Now, I'm not looking for miracles and I know that it will probably take a lot of time to build up enough coupons to start seeing huge savings but if I can save even ten dollars, I should do it.. Right?

Today, I read tons of articles about how to coupon and they all pretty much say that same thing: Save your manufactures coupons until you can find a store coupon to go with it- or until it is about to expire. So basically all I was looking for today was a store coupon and a manufactures coupon that I could use together.

Here is what I found:

Jack's Pizza (Colin loves these for some reason)
Jewel-Osco- Save $2 when you buy 5
Manufactures- Save $1 when you buy 3
- Hoping that I can use the two together to get $3 off of 5 pizzas.

AquaFresh Toothpaste:
J-O- Save $1.30
Manufacture - $1.00 off any AF toothpaste
-Using the two together to get $2.30 off of 1 toothpaste.

Poise Feminine Pads:
J-O- $3.00 off 27-72 count Poise product
M- $1.00 off any Poise product
-Using the two together to get $4.00 off of one pack of Poise pads.

Tidy Cats Cat Litter:
J-O- $6.00 off of 27 lb box of cat litter
M- Save $1.00 on any Tidy Cats Litter purchase.
-Giving these to a friend who should be able to use the two together to get $7.00 off of a 27 lb box of cat litter.

Huggies Diapers
J-O- $1.50 off Huggies Big Pack Diapers, Pull ups, or Goodnights
M- $1.50 off of one package Huggies Diapers.
- I am giving these to my boss and his wife but they should be able to get $3.00 off of diapers when they use both of them.

Drugstore Deals: Walgreens

Colgate Optic White Toothpaste:
On sale for $3.99
$2.00 Register rewards good towards next purchase.
$1.50 Manufacture coupon
Like paying: $0.49

Scrubbing Bubbles One Step Toilet Bowl Cleaner Starter Kit
On sale for $8.99
$2.00 register rewards good on next purchase
$4.00 Manufacture coupon
Like paying: $2.99

I wonder if I split this into two transactions and used my $2 register rewards from the toothpaste for the Scrubbing Bubbles Kit, if it would be like paying $0.99... Hmmmm.. I may try that.

If you have any coupon advice or found some awesome deals lately, let me know in the comments!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Revelation

My amazing life changing revelation is pretty simple:

I can blog about anything I want.

Yep. That's it. A few weeks ago I was in the blogging mood but hadn't baked in months weeks due to the fierce Chicago heat and no AC. All of the sudden, I realized that this is my blog and even though it is named "Southern Charm Treats", I don't have to bake something every time I write. I can write about whatever I want.

In a perfect world, I would have a baking post 5 times a week but let's be honest, this world ain't perfect.
Like how I used "ain't"? Just letting my southern roots show, y'all!

So today I have a couple things to throw out into the world:

1. I absolutely REFUSE to go running when Colin isn't home. Maybe I have watched too many episodes of Law & Order: SVU but whatever the reason, I am TERRIFIED of doing it. I will not do it. Even though he doesn't run with me, he knows how long I usually run and would come looking for me if I didn't come home. If he wasn't home, no one would know that I didn't come home when I supposed to... See? I am either paranoid or logical, not sure which one.

2. Colin is using my fear of running when he isn't home to try to talk me into getting a German Shepherd... In a one bedroom apartment. Yep. Really, Colin? He says that a German Shepherd would run with me and people are scared of them so they wouldn't mess with me. Boys that are desperate for a dog will try any excuse, I guess.... One bedroom apartment.... Really? No. I feel like a treadmill is much more logical in this situation. Just saying.

3. I found out last night that Katy Perry is going to be in Vegas on my birthday this year. My first thought was "if that isn't a sign from God, I don't know what is". I immediately texted all of my friends from back home and told them we are going and that they didn't have a choice. I then managed the huge feat of convincing Colin it was a good idea. Today, I looked up flight prices. Let me go ahead and tell you, it isn't a good idea. It is actually a horrible idea. Don't know if that will be happening or not. Horrible, horrible idea. Anyone know of better travel sites than Expedia? I always use Expedia, I am just hoping there is some magical site like or something :)

4. Ever get that feeling like if you have to walk into your place of employment one more time your whole world is going to end and you will just cease to exist?.... No?... Maybe I am being a little dramatic but it is kind of how I feel right now.

That's all I want to write for now, folks. And, you know, its my blog and I can write whatever I want :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Classic Peanut Butter Cookies

I have tried a lot of peanut butter cookies, honestly. I love them. I like how simple they are to make and how soft they are and of course, how perfectly they go with a glass of milk. Like I said, I have tried a lot of peanut butter cookies but my all time favorites come from the recipe on the back of the Jif Peanut Butter jar. Perfection. Before your mind gets carried away, I have no connection with Jif Peanut Butter other than I buy a lot of it. :) 
Now, this recipe makes three dozen cookies. Three dozen peanut butter cookies wouldn't last long around my house and since I am doing C25K (more on that later) I ate two, saved 6 for Colin, and loaded the rest up in ZipLock bags and sent them home with my brother. 
It was honestly painful to watch these cookies walk out of my house in my brother's backpack :)
Make some peanut butter cookies. Use your favorite recipe. Get a big glass of milk and watch The Closer, Rizzoli and Isles, and Law and Order SVU. Doesn't that just sound like a perfect night? It does to me, at least. 

C25K Update: Okay so I had my normal rest day after the first run on Monday and then on Wednesday I had a run. I only made it twenty minutes of that run instead of the full thirty because I was having some trouble breathing (I have a respiratory condition) and decided not to push it. On Friday, which would have been my normal run day, one of our good friends from Gulfport texted us to let us know that he was in Chicago! It isn't often that you have drop in visitors from Mississippi but between work and socializing, running was the last thing on my mind. I am going to restart from day one tomorrow after work.

Speaking of tomorrow, I am determined to at least make an effort to like Monday of this week. Usually I hate even speaking the M word, but this week, I am going to try to embrace it. I'll let you know how that works out for me later on in the week :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's Baking Round Up & C25K

Hello Dolls,

Do you know what the best thing about Tuesday is? It isn't Monday.

Aren't Mondays just the worst? They definitely are for me. They just show up out of no where and scream "Hey! You're weekend is over!" By Tuesday I am a little less bitter about it and I can get on with my week.

I hope you guys are having a good day but if not, here is a little something to brighten your day. The Mess Pot hosted our What's Baking challenge this month and has posted the monthly round up..

I will definitely be trying some of the recipes posted this month and I am sure that you will too.

These round ups always remind me that I desperately need a new camera :) Christmas present, perhaps? Hint, hint, Colin if you're reading this haha.

On a completely unrelated note, I started Couch to 5k yesterday. I have wanted to run a 5k for awhile now and even tried C25k with my best friend Stacey last year but didn't stick with it. Being healthy wasn't really a priority until recently when I started having some minor health problems. I don't want those minor health problems to open the door for major ones so I am getting serious about what I put into my body and also getting exercise.

Not to mention, Colin's family is taking us on a cruise in March of next year (there is like a billion of us going) and I need to drop twenty a couple of pounds lol.

Have a lovely Tuesday and enjoy the round up post!

Monday, August 29, 2011

My New Favorite Blog

My Mom called me the other day and said she had found a blog that I just HAD to look at. Now, these phone calls are far from rare so I really didn't think anything about it. My Mom is always finding new blogs and I read the posts that she liked but rarely go back to them.

This blog is different. I literally check it for new posts every day. On Confessions of a 20 Something, "Pink Lou Lou" writes mainly about fashion and hair styling but with a sweet and sassy southern charm. She is all about "the poof" which I haven't seen much of since moving to Chicago and Carrie Underwood, who she actually got to meet.

I like this blog not only because she made a curling iron tutorial that basically changed my life but also because she reminds me of my friends back home.

So, go check her out because she is pretty much what being a 20 something southern girl is all about :)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What's Baking? - Strawberry Pie

When the theme for August was announced in the What's Baking group as Celebrate Summer, the first thing that came to my mind was a fruit pie. To me, fruit pies basically scream Summer and as we are winding summer down and heading full force into Fall, I jumped at the chance to make one. I have very limited experience making pies. Some of you may remember my attempt at pumpkin pie when I tried to make a homemade pie crust... And failed miserably. This time I decided to go with a store bought pie crust and Annie's strawberry pie recipe.

I learned a couple things while making this pie...

1. When a recipe tells you to use pie weights, it is probably necessary. I skipped that part and my pie crust rose dramatically.

2. Don't take a shower and ask your husband to watch the pie crust.. It will most likely be over cooked..

3. Don't do dishes while your Kitchenaid mixer makes whipped cream unsupervised. To say the whipped cream was over whipped is the understatement of the year.

4. Things that don't look very good can still be delicious.

I was not excited about how this pie looked... At all. However, when I tasted it, I completely changed my mind about it. This was the first time I have ever had strawberry pie but it definitely won't be the last, I'm in love.

So, Goodbye Summer 2011, I will miss you dearly in just a few short months when the snow starts coming down in Chicago again :)

I will direct you over to Annie's blog for the recipe because I didn't change anything except I used Ball brand fruit pectin instead of Sure-Jell.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

This book is EVERYWHERE right now because the first movie will be in theaters next year. I kept hearing that it was great and that I was crazy for not rushing to the bookstore to pick it up and devour it in one sitting. My attitude towards the book was very "eh". I wasn't excited by it or to quote my friend Jamie. I just "wasn't feeling it". Because I work at a movie theater, I watch a lot of movies. A lot. And I try to make a point to read the books that movies are based on before they come out so I can compare the two. Of course, the book always wins. Reading the book also tells me whether I even want to bother seeing the movie.

Take "One Day" for example. I know that there has to be people out there that adore this book but I read three chapters and just couldn't get into it. I never finished the book and I have no interest in watching the movie even though I like Anne Hathaway, especially when she is clothed :)

On Wednesdays, one of my days off, I have a tradition. Colin goes to work around 4pm and I walk to Target (4 blocks from our apartment) and just browse. Browse in this context could also be replaced with "spend money on things I don't need".  Target gets me every time :) Anyway, I always get a Dr Pepper from the snack bar, browse through all the clothes, try on what I like, look at all books and electronics, and make my way to the make up. By the time I am done in the make up section my arms are so full with things I don't need that I can barely make it to the register.

Yesterday, on my Target trip I decided to pick up The Hunger Games. "If I don't like it, at least I can tell everyone to shut up about it" I thought to myself. No such luck. You see, I started reading it around 8pm. By 8:15 I thought about putting it down and spending hours stalking on Facebook. By 8:30, I wouldn't stop reading that book if my house caught on fire. In fact, I didn't stop reading until 2:30am when I finished it. Yep, it grabbed me. It sucked me in and I couldn't stop reading, couldn't fathom putting it down.

Run to the bookstore. Lose yourself in this book. Devour it in one sitting. It is just THAT good.

If I tried to explain to you what it was about, you probably wouldn't be that interested so I won't. I'll just say go get the book. If you don't like it, you've only wasted $6.47 at Target.

I am currently neglecting all of my adult responsibilities while reading the second book, Catching Fire.

After I finish this series, what should I read? Any suggestions? This has been my replacement for Harry Potter and Twilight but just like they did, this series will end all too soon. Three books just isn't going to be enough!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh, Baby!

I am not an aged scholar but if I had to guess, I would say that at the end of my life I will only be able to name 10-15 people who I truly cherish. 10-15 people who changed me and my life for the better. 10-15 people who I will never forget and always look back on fondly. Of course, that number doesn't include family members because I now have two fairly large families that I love with all of my heart, but I do know that Erika T. will be on that list if I had to make it today, tomorrow, or in sixty years.

I first met Erika in tenth grade. We were both new to our high school but she seemed like she had it all figured out on the first day. Calm and cool. I however, was a wreck. I missed the first few weeks of school because I had been in the hospital and on bed rest. Not a fun time. By the time I was able to attend a full day of classes I thought that everyone had figured out who they were going to be friends with and that there wouldn't be room for me. Man, I could not have been more wrong. Within what seemed like hours, Erika, JooJoo, Erica B, Alyssa, and I were inseperable. We had sleepovers, we danced on the side of a busy road in Gulfport, we got sent to the principle's office for a number of things, and on Erika's 16th birthday, we wrecked my first car doing donuts on an abandoned gravel road.
From left: Erika T, Erica B, Alyssa, Joo Joo, and Me years ago.

Our lives changed as lives always do. Erica B moved to Texas with her long time boyfriend, I got married and moved to Chicago, Alyssa married a solider who is stationed in South Carolina, JooJaroo (whose real name is Julianne but we basically call her everything BUT her real name) lives in Indiana, and Erika T works and goes to school full time in Gulfport. Despite our distance Erika and I have remained close, if not become closer as the years have gone by. We were the first of our group to discover how much gas prices affect your life or how your paycheck doesn't last that long and bills just continue to pile up. We bonded over adulthood.. And how overrated it all is :) Kidding... 

Erika is one of the strongest people I know. She doesn't wait on anyone or anything, she is going to do her thing, regardless of what everyone else is doing. She was raised by her grandma and last year when "G-Ma", as Erika affectionately called her, passed away it was the saddest time in Erika's life to date. I cried for days because I was in Chicago and not with her. Did she need me? No, Erika doesn't NEED anyone... But I needed to be there for her.

Erika works a full time job and goes to school full time because she is not the type of person who sits around and feels sorry for herself. She is a go getter and she won't stop until she gets what she wants. Or what is best for her. The most valuable lesson that I have learned from Erika is that it doesn't matter your situation, life it what you make it... And boy, is she making her life a beautiful experience.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, if you read the post from earlier this week you know that two of my best friends are pregnant and by this time, you have probably figured out that Erika is one of them. I can't think of anyone more capable or deserving to bring life into this world. Having a child is such a beautiful honor that not everyone gets the chance to do and I know Erika won't take that for granted. She will teach her children everything they need to know to succeed in life and instill her hard work ethic in them, I am sure of it. You may have noticed in that last sentence I said "children"... In case you didn't catch that, allow me to clarify: Erika is pregnant with not one, but TWO healthy babies!

I couldn't be more happy for her and Kevin. They deserve all the happiness this world can afford them and 2 babies may mean 2x the diapers and 2x the bottles but I am sure it will also bring 2x the happiness and joy into their home.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

M.I.A Without a Cause

I have been absent for a while now and I really don't have any good reasons for it. I could tell you that the past few months have been extremely draining and challenging emotionally and physically. I could tell you that I haven't felt like myself in a long time. I could even tell you that I haven't baked anything while I have been absent from my blog because the very thought seems exhausting but I won't tell you any of those things because they aren't the kind of things that people want to hear about! Why would they? It is depressing! 

I will tell you that two of my best friends just found out they are pregnant! At the same time! It is so exciting and I am so happy for them but because one of them is keeping it under wraps, I won't go into great detail. However, she is having her first sonogram next week and is announcing it after that.... Yep, you can bet that I have a post planned for that.

I will also tell you that my cat Mally came home two weeks after she ran away...Pregnant. All six of her kittens are three weeks old. :)

Its all about babies in my crowd right now lol. And before anyone asks, no, I am not pregnant, just enjoying the amazing experience that my friends (and cat lol) are going through right now. I am living vicariously through all of them :)

See ya then :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mickey Mouse/ Twilight Cake

What a combination, huh? The story behind this cake is... Well, a lot of my friends have birthdays in July. Luckily, Tyler and Jamie have been best friends for YEARS so they wanted to have a joint birthday dinner, which meant a joint birthday cake. The choice for Jamie's side of the cake was simple, we love Twilight. We even went to Forks, Washington once... Yep, I am serious.
Jamie is all the way on the left, I am on the right, and our friend Angel is in the middle.

Tyler's choice was also pretty simple. He loves all things Disney, I promise you he goes to Disney World like, 850 times a year. Okay, maybe a little less than that but he does go a lot. Lol. He also works at a Post Office so when I found this picture on the internet, I knew exactly what to do.
I made a square cake covered in black fondant and used gumpaste to make the chess piece and apple (that looks like a tomato) for Jamie's side of the cake.. I used fondant for the ribbon and the white pieces of the chess board.
Things I learned from this side of the cake:
Gumpaste is heavy. When making bigger pieces I should use half gumpaste and half fondant.

Tyler's side of the cake:
I printed the image to be the right size that I needed. I then rolled out a large white piece of fondant and used the stamp picture as a stencil. I placed the picture directly on top of the fondant and used a toothpick to trace all of the lines of the picture, using enough pressure so that the lines would show on the fondant. I then used food coloring and water to paint inside all of the lines.

Things I learned from this side of the cake:
Start way earlier than the day of the party. Wait, didn't I say I learned that a few cakes ago? Oops..
The "paint" needed time to dry. Unfortunately, that was time that we didn't have. Tyler peeled the stamp off of the cake before we cut it though so, no harm done. At least no one wound up with food coloring stained teeth lol!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Last Wednesday Night

Last Wednesday both Colin and I were off of work and we ran errands and hung out. Around six we went grocery shopping and when we came home and were unloading groceries Mally, our one year old cat, ran out of the door. Colin went to stop her but I told him not to. I told him to let her run around for a little bit and she would come back happier, as she always does. We went inside, cooked dinner, cleaned, and I made sugar cookies. By this time it was around 1:30 in the morning. Right around the time that I was flooding the cookies, I started getting really worried. She had always come back and scratched at the door within a few hours. Colin said it wasn't safe to walk around the apartments so late at night so I just called her quietly from the back door so I wouldn't wake anyone up. She didn't come. I left the cookies on the cooling racks and paced the apartment until around 6:30 waiting for her to come home. I finally fell asleep and woke to a call from my landlord saying that someone had seen her around the complex but she wouldn't let them come near her. I rushed to where they had seen her but she was gone by that time. I walked around and around the apartment calling her and couldn't find her. I looked again the next day and the next.. And the next.I even checked the pound. Nothing. A week has passed, I never finished those cookies, they don't seem important anymore. The first few days I cried and cried all day when I wasn't at work but the truth that she isn't coming home has sunk in and I am dealing with it. People without pets probably think I am silly, it isn't like I lost a person, I know that, but I lost a friend all the same.
I loved her from the moment I saw her at Petland. My friends told me I could get cats for five dollars if I looked in the paper but I didn't care about the money, I wanted her.

I guess this is just to explain my absence. I don't want anyone to think that I am walking around like a zombie here, I am just not in the mood to bake right now. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wedding Anniversary- Random Pics

Today is my first wedding anniversary so I decided to share some really random pictures. We had a really small, thrown together in two weeks wedding. And no, I wasn't pregnant :) Planning was really stressful and there was a lot of negativity from several people that wasn't helpful at all. Finally I got fed up and asked Colin if we could just go to the courthouse and get it over with. Great attitude, huh? I was past my breaking point. He said that his parents wanted a wedding but when he mentioned the courthouse idea to them, they understood but suggested that we do it at our church. I wasn't going to wear a wedding dress, we weren't going to have a reception, and it was going to be immediate family only. Somehow in two weeks, I did wear a wedding dress, we had a small reception, and around fifty people were there. The best part about it was one of my best friends from high school was able to marry us. That was really special. Although I had always dreamed of having that "Father of the Bride" type wedding, when it was all said and done, Colin and I both said that we wouldn't do it any differently if we could go back and do it again.
Most embarrassing picture ever. This was the night before the wedding at mine and Colin's favorite mexican restaurant, Los Tres Amigos. Those are two of my best friends and we were dancing. Now you know I am a dork.
All anyone reading this blog cares about, the cake! It fell over about 40 seconds after this picture was taken. True. Story.
One of my sisters. She is honestly the cutest two year old (that wasn't two yet) in existence. She was obsessed with the flowers.

Okay, maybe one picture I don't look horrible in:
Yep, you can barely see my face. See what I am trying to tell you here? I looked bad in all of them. :( I blame it on the lighting :) 
That is my mother-in-law in the picture with me. I know you can't see her face either but trust me, she is gorgeous. 

And just because:

The only picture I have of our first date.

Us getting engaged

Happy Anniversary Colin! Thanks for making this the best year of my life. Looking forward to many more with you :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Purple Birthday Cake

This cake was for a coworker. His daughter had a birthday coming up so me and Jamie offered to make the cake. However, Jamie's sister went into labor in Florida and she had to rush there, leaving me to make this cake alone... I may still be bitter about that :)

The week that I made this cake was bad. I was tired, stressed, and overworked. I didn't want to do anything but sleep.  My coworker called and said that since Jamie was out of town and I didn't have any help, he would just pick up a cake at Wal-Mart. "Thank God!" I screamed inwardly. I went to bed. I woke up around 1a.m. (as I always do if I let myself fall asleep before midnight), walked into my kitchen, and looked at all of the supplies I had already purchased for the cake. I figured I might as well finish it so that is what I did. I finished the cake. I filled it with chocolate pudding and frosted it with buttercream. You can see that at this point I still had a problem with not using enough buttercream. I used teal fondant accents and piped Happy Birthday with buttercream. 

This was a big cake. It was three layers and it took forever to eat. Luckily Colin's brother was staying with us at the time and he was able to help with that :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

What's Baking?-Vanilla Cupcakes

This is my first month participating in the What's Baking Challenges! The challenges are decided by different members of the group each month and February was chosen by Dunne at With a Cherry On Top. The theme is "Baked With Love" and these cupcakes were baked with plenty of it!
I also really loved eating them. :)

Vanilla Cupcakes:

1/2 cup butter- Room Temp
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg Whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk

1. Preheat the your oven to 350 degrees and prepare your muffin pans by putting a liner in each cup. You will need two 12-cup pans as this recipe makes 24 cupcakes. You can use the same pan twice, it will just slow you down a little bit. 
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg whites, one at a time, until well combined and light. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the bowl.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and add, a little at a time, into the butter mixture. Mix for around two minutes. Add milk gradually and beat at high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Taste the batter. It is delicious. Don't take my word for it, go ahead, try it for yourself.
4. Spoon half of the mixture into a large pastry bag. Cut off the tip of the bag and twist the top, making sure the air is out of the bag. Use the pastry bag to neatly and uniformly distribute the batter into the paper liners.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes. Oven times vary but mine were done at exactly twenty minutes, exactly like the book said. 
6. Cool the pan on a wire rack for ten minutes. Using a small spatula  or knife, remove the cupcakes from the pan. Finish cooling on wire racks.
7. Frost as desired.

The frosting I used was a simple chocolate frosting recipe from

  • Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

  • Directions:
  • In a large bowl, beat margarine and cocoa together until combined. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more milk or confectioners' sugar if necessary.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Flip Flop Cake

My second cake. Made in June of 2010.

Just a few weeks after the Blue Jeans Cake that I made, Jamie asked me to make a cake for our friend Melissa's birthday. Still looking for something easy but desiring a little bit more of a challenge, we decided to make a flip flop cake together. Melissa loves flip flops. She lives in them. She was known to take her business shoes off and wear flip flops around the office fairly often!

We watched this video and used this template.

If you notice, the flowers are completely different sizes. We had never made flowers before so they are laughable but we tried! This was also the first cake that I filled. We used a nutella buttercream filling and chocolate cake. The sand is brown sugar. Everyone loved the cake, it was delicious!


If you have never leveled a cake before, a cake leveler is a great investment! It really helped me out when I almost ruined this cake. They are only a couple of dollars.

Pipe a line of buttercream around the outside of your cake board so that brown sugar sand does not fall off when you are transporting the cake.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blue Jeans Cake

I showed this cake in my very first blog post but I thought I would dedicate a post to each of the cakes that I have made. The most recent cake that I made was this one that did not turn out so well but let's start at the very beginning, shall we?

I stayed up all night watching youtube videos on cake decorating one night and couldn't get it out of my head. I had always watched cake decorating shows and thought I would love to do that but never really looked into it. Watching youtube videos with real people decorating cakes in their own kitchens really made me think about it though and I started considering the fact that maybe I really could do it.

My friend Jamie was about to graduate college and said that I should practice by making her a cake. I was nervous but went back to youtube to find something that seemed manageable for a first attempt. I then came across this video.

Jamie is a total hippy at heart so I decided that I would make her a bell bottom jeans cake.
This was the first time that I had even heard about things like "crumb coating" or "piping".

I also made her these cookies:
I did a few graduation hats but the others were "Peace, Love, and Happiness" themed. I had never even heard of royal icing at this point. These cookies are decorated with a glaze made from powdered sugar, milk, and food coloring.

If you have never decorated a cake before, even something that is considered to be so simple can intimidate you. I know it intimidated me! My number one tip for a beginner (or really all cake decorators) is give yourself enough time. Start early, stay up late, do whatever you have to do to not be rushing right before you need to deliver or serve the cake.

Practice your piping on a napkin or paper plate to make sure that you have cut the right size hole in your pastry bag. If you are using a tip, it is still a good idea to practice first, just to make sure you have the hang of it. I would like to say my piping has improved dramatically since this cake but I really have a long way to go and a lot practicing to do.

Crumb Coats are really important because they catch all of the crumbs so that your final coat of frosting is smooth. Do not skip the crumb coat!

The hardest thing for me was getting the final coat of frosting smooth. I didn't understand what I was doing wrong, I had done the crumb coat and chilled the cake for the right about of time. I now know that I was not using enough buttercream. Don't be shy with your buttercream! It is easier to get it smooth if you have plenty to spread around.

Don't be ashamed to use the template provided here.

Don't expect perfection your first (or sixtieth) time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Anything Look Different?

Well it should! I love the new blog design and I hope you do too! Becca from Jumping Jax Designs was so accommodating and didn't even yell when I asked her to change things! She was a joy to work with and I highly recommend her. I still have to work on my other pages in my menu bar, don't click on them yet, they are empty! Lol!

Hope everyone is staying warm out there!

We have almost made it to the weekend :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I don't know.

"What is your next step?"

I don't know.

"Are you going back to school?"

I don't know.

"What are your goals?"

I don't know.

"So what, you've just given up on baking?"

No. But baking doesn't pay my bills.

"I thought going to pastry school was the whole reason you moved to Chicago"

No. The whole reason I moved to Chicago was to get away from certain people and have new experiences. The decision didn't revolve around baking but if you have sixteen grand lying around throw it my way and I'll be happy to start pastry school. Otherwise, shut up.

I feel like my life consists of getting asked these questions over and over again. Like they are on a CD stuck on repeat. The person that asks me usually asks like they are offended when I answer "I don't know". Like they are victims of my "wasted potential"or something when in reality, maybe they should think of how completely embarrassing that is to admit. I don't know.

I am the type of person who gets a idea for a career or business and totally throws myself into the idea.. Until the next one comes. This has caused everyone to not take me seriously when I try to tell them the next big plan. A couple people I have told about my newest plan have actually said "oh it is just a phase, you'll be over this in no time". Thanks for the support. Honestly though, can I blame them for having that outlook? How many ideas have I started and then abandoned? The cycle usually goes like this:

Idea-Excitement-Complete devotion to idea-Telling family and friends-Total discouragement- Idea thrown in the trash.

I guess what they don't know is I can read through statements like this: "Yeah.. Uh, thats good but what about starting a bakery? I thought you were going to do that?". I know that means "Yeah I don't like this idea, can we go back to the bakery?"

I am standing still. Not moving. Grasping at air.

When I was an employee I was working towards becoming a Manager. Once I was a Manager I worked towards becoming a Senior Manager. Now that I am a Senior Manager, I have nothing else to work towards because being a General Manager of a movie theater is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. People keep telling me that I should work towards that anyway. Why? What is the point of working towards something that I don't want to do? What a waste of time and effort. Every day I go to work, count money, come home, sleep ridiculous hours, and repeat. There is no learning, there is no progressing. Which would be fine, I wouldn't have to constantly be learning something if I was doing what I want to be doing.

"Just wait"

Two words that I am so tired of hearing. Why tell me to wait to start something that I want to do? What am I waiting for? For the site to build itself? For the inventory to stock itself? For the business license to come in the mail without me applying for it? What? When is it going to be the perfect time? There is never a perfect time for things like getting married, having a baby, or starting a business. Those are things that you can never be prepared enough for. You can never have "enough" money saved. You just have to jump.

"You just want to do something else so bad you'll do anything. You just grab any idea that comes to you and run with it like this one will work when it won't."

You're a jerk.

Today, my best answer is simply, I don't know. Today, that is all I have.

Because honestly, I don't know where I will be in ten years. I don't know where I will be in five, or two, or even one.

All I know is what I am doing today. Going to work, counting money, going home, sleeping ridiculous hours, and praying that I won't be repeating forever.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"I Hate Valentines Day"

Remember the movie "Valentines Day" that came out last year? It had every famous person alive in it? Well Jessica Biel's character was a mess the whole day because she hated Valentines Day. She even went so far as to have a "I Hate Valentines Day Party". Now I may be a newlywed, completely in love and all that jazz, but I love that idea.

My feelings about Valentines Day are mixed. I love all of the hearts and pink things you see when you go in a supermarket but the actual day? Eh, not so much. Every year I build it up in my head even though I PROMISED myself the previous year that I wouldn't do that again and then... Something always happens. One Valentines Day, I spent 3 hours at a gas station in my car that was broken down and my cell phone was dead. I just had to wait for someone to find me. That was a great one.

 Last year was the worst because my brother had gone into the hospital for a serious condition the day before. My husband (Then Fiance), bless his heart, has never really "gotten" holidays. He doesn't really see why they are important. I remember walking up to him at work last year and saying "So.. You really didn't get me anything? Like, I am not going to go home and find flowers, am I?" Poor thing, didn't know what to say. He just stuttered a little and said "I thought with everything going on with your brother, you wouldn't even want to think about Valentines Day"... Oh, men.. Their logic is so completely backwards sometimes.

So these cookies are for all the girls that consider themselves "chronically single", for the girl that just broke up with her boyfriend of four years, for the cynics that refuse to buy into a "Hallmark Holiday", for those of us whose husbands/boyfriends/ whatever has to work that day, and for everyone else that just hasn't ever had a good Valentines Day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Valentines Day King Cake?

I admit it, I had no purple, green, and yellow sprinkles on hand... But I would like to say that I just wanted this Kings Cake to be a Valentines Day treat lol.

Have I always lived near New Orleans? Yes. Have I ever had King Cake? No. Surprising, I know, it is basically a sin and I am not sure how it happened. It just never looked appealing to me. At this time of year back home the superstores are filled with them though so I thought I would bring a little home to Chicago for Colin's sake, at least.
The recipe can be found here.

It was fairly easy to make but it took a long of time because you have to wait on the dough to rise twice. I used a cream cheese filling instead of the one on the recipe but I wish I wouldn't have. I don't know what happened, but the filling was not very good. The bread is delicious and the glaze on top makes it even better but I won't even give the website I got the filling recipe off of lol. Just go with the brown sugar filling, I am sure it is delicious lol.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Please Forgive Me...

For being absent lately...

When I got home from my parents house last week I was prepared to bake like crazy and get several posts scheduled... Unfortunately, my immune system had other plans and I came down with a virus! Oh no! I am on the mend now but of course, Colin has it now.

As soon as I can get this house sickness free, King Cake is on the menu!

Get ready :)
I know I am.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

I think this picture does a good job of showing you how used this recipe has been. My Mom got the recipe from a Southern Living Magazine when I was little and has been making it ever since. When I found out how much Colin loves it, (he ate half of the cake by himself) I knew I had to try it myself.
Don't look at me like that, you can't taste the sour cream.

The recipe calls for semisweet chocolate chips but I only had the mini semisweet on had so I used half a cup of those and half a cup of milk chocolate chips. You can mix and match however you would like.

Southern Living's Chocolate Chip Pound Cake
1 (18.25 oz.) yellow cake mix with pudding
1 (3.9 oz.) pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 large eggs
1 (8oz.) carton sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Sifted powdered sugar

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Start by getting a bundt pan ready by greasing and flouring it.Combine the first three ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk to remove large lumps. Add oil and next three ingredients, stirring until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into your greased and floured 12 cup bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Dig in immediately.

Ooey Gooey chocolate chips.

This cake is honestly super delicious. You can't beat a piece of this and a glass of milk for a healthy nutritious breakfast snack after supper.. :)
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